Simple Ways to Increase Customer Retention

Simple Ways to Increase Customer Retention

“How do we keep ‘em coming back?”

Customer retention is one of the most important priorities throughout dealership operations. Service, parts, and sales all rely on repeat customers and keeping the customers from ‘cradle to grave’ as they say. In a perfect world, you sell them the car, they come back for all of their service and parts needs, and when they need another car…you guessed it. They come back to your store.

In all that focus, though, one department rarely gets mentioned when it comes to the part they play in raising customer retention…F&I.

Every car buyer, new or used, has to come through F&I to complete their transaction. No buyer can skip this part and yet no one talks much about the role they play in helping to make sure buyers come back to their dealership for all of the sales, service, and parts needs.

Here are a few ways that F&I managers can do their part to help increase customer retention right away (and may add a nice boost to PVR, too) –

The Ol’ Reliable Service Walkthrough

If your F&I staff is not already doing this with each deal, give it a try a couple of days during the week when they have a little more time. Have them walk the buyers in for a meet & greet with the service advisors. Talk up the quick turnaround and how all the mechanics have passed rigorous OEM certifications. Mention that all aftermarket protections can be handled here as well. One-stop-shop. 

Buyers hearing all of this and meeting the staff helps reinforce the sense that they SHOULD bring their new car back here for everything it needs. After all, they are the expert in the car, right? Right. 

It’s a simple and quick thing to do that can yield big dividends in the years to come. 

Embrace the Bundle 

Bundles are becoming more popular in F&I. Offering complimentary products under one package price is easier than you think and if done right, it increases customer retention. 

For example, a ‘service package’ could include a VSC, tire & wheel, and prepaid maintenance (PPM) all for one price. This helps on a few levels…higher penetration for all products included, all claims for service/repair would require an inspection at the dealership anyway, and it makes the buyer feel as though you are offering a special ‘total car’ protection that other stores may not offer. Menu selling is tough but made even tougher by overwhelming a buyer with a huge list of products. Make it simple and create 2 or 3 standard packages and watch retention climb. Buyers will feel obligated to come back if the perception is that they were given a great deal to do it.  

Private Label Your Bundle  

From a marketing perspective, it’s likely your store already has a ‘brand’…a unique way they position themselves in the local market. It’s a tone, a voice, and a vibe that the store has that is consistent throughout the dealership. That brand should carry over to F&I, too. 

If your store offers a PPM, brand it by calling it something special like ‘The XYZ Advantage Protection Plan’ or the ‘ABC Appearance Guard’. Something that makes the buyer feel like they are getting a special protection or program that no one else in the market is offering. It’s branded to your store and what does that mean? 

Customer retention goes through the roof. 

It’s a mental pull back to the dealership when they need any service or parts. Your dealership name is on the products…they must come to you for that service or repair. That is the power of branding. 

In this new world of selling cars during a pandemic that doesn’t seem likely to go away any time soon, customer retention can make or break a struggling dealership. F&I can do their part to help increase the chances that buyers come back for services and maintenance.

Plus, getting them back in for service and parts means they are also more likely to buy their next car from you, too. Doing all these little things can bring big results at a time when any good news is welcome.